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Conard Class of ’15 Heads to ‘Hollywood’ for Safe Grad Celebration

Holllywood theme. Conard Class of 2015 Safe Grad Party. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

A peek inside Conard’s Class of 2015 Safe Grad party.

By Ronni Newton

The annual rite of passage after graduation from one of West Hartford’s high schools is the all night Safe Grad party – the theme of which is always kept top secret until the grads arrive at 10 p.m.

We-Ha.com got a sneak peek at the decorations for Conard’s party on Monday morning – an elaborate Hollywood-themed extravaganza that spirits grads into their future via “Con-Air.”

The invitations sent to all graduates – boarding passes designed by Stacy Murray – are the only clues that the student have before they arrive and step through a wall of glitter into an “airplane” and then through the other side where Ryan Seacrest (aka Assistant Principal Matt Pace) and paparazzi (chaperones) in TMZ shirts snap their photos as they head down a 40-foot red carpet into the celebration.

Safe Grad chairperson Chantal Kotyla said a few minor last-minute adjustments had to be made to accommodate this year’s indoor graduation, but most of the decorations remained hidden until the beginning of the party. All of the decorating is done off-site, at St. Mark’s Church on South Quaker Lane, and moved to Conard in the days leading up to graduation.

The Safe Grad decorating committee keeps some of the panels and props from previous years, but there are always new, and very elaborate, additions.

Rich Ferguson-Hull spent three months crafting human-sized “Oscars” that involved gluing sheets of special foam together, one layer at a time, Kotyla said.

“The people that came through with all the details, it was just incredible,” she said.

The Hollywood theme included a focus on several movies that were popular during the years the graduates were growing up. Areas of the lobby are evoke detailed scenes from “Toy Story,” (the clouds took four people four hours each to craft) “Harry Potter,” “Twilight,” “Transformers,” and “Hunger Games,” and graduates can pause for photos in each set.

“We tried to be mindful of having activities for all of the kids, and some of them don’t want to be bouncing on the inflatables all night. Every movie we’ve focused on will also be shown in the auditorium,” Kotyla said, affording some quiet time.

Conard’s cash cab (a real vehicle with the engine removed) makes its annual appearance, this time beneath the “Hollywood Hills.” The hills were another major new project – a vision of some of the people on the decorating committee, Kotyla said.

Photos of every graduate fill a star along the “Hollywood Walk of Fame” leading to the gym where the grads expend their celebratory energy in several inflatables. Included is a “cash cube,” where one lucky grad will win money every hour. The small gym is host laser tag throughout the night.

Safe Grad also has transformed the cafeteria, with ping pong tournament area, Rodeo Drive food court decorated with authentic restaurant signs, karaoke, henna tattoo artist, “Minute to Win It,” and arts and crafts.

“I think they did an awesome job,” Kotyla said of the committee. “The attention to details, even on the crafts relating to the theme is amazing.”

The back of the cafeteria is devoted to the “Glo Lounge,” where grads enjoy music by Sound Spectrum in a black-lit atmosphere.

At 2 a.m., grads will file into the auditorium where they will be entertained by a hypnotist.

At 4 a.m., $3,800 worth of prizes will be given away at random. The grads have to be present to win a prize, most of which are items they can use in their future lives like TVs, printers, and other high-tech gadgets.

Kotyla said that businesses have been extremely generous in donations, and the committee also raised a good amount of money through the Parents Night Out fundraiser and from “flocking.”

She’s hopeful that most of the class will attend. “The invitiations were a real hit. They got people pumped,” she said.

“The whole concept is to have kids be safe and celebrate their accomplishments,” said Kotyla.

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Flight to Hollywood. Conard Class of 2015 Safe Grad Party. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Flight to Hollywood. Conard Class of 2015 Safe Grad Party. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Flight to Hollywood. Conard Class of 2015 Safe Grad Party. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Flight to Hollywood. Conard Class of 2015 Safe Grad Party. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Oscar was carefully crafted over the course of several months from layers of foam. Conard Class of 2015 Safe Grad Party. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Oscar was carefully crafted over the course of several months from layers of foam. Conard Class of 2015 Safe Grad Party. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Holllywood theme. Conard Class of 2015 Safe Grad Party. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Holllywood theme. Conard Class of 2015 Safe Grad Party. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard students arrive at the party via 'Con-Air.' Conard Class of 2015 Safe Grad Party. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard students arrive at the party via ‘Con-Air.’ Conard Class of 2015 Safe Grad Party. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

'Toy Story'  is one of the themes of the party. Conard Class of 2015 Safe Grad Party. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

‘Toy Story’ is one of the themes of the party. Conard Class of 2015 Safe Grad Party. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

'Transformers' is one of the themes of the party. Conard Class of 2015 Safe Grad Party. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

‘Transformers’ is one of the themes of the party. Conard Class of 2015 Safe Grad Party. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Cash cab sits below the Hollywood Hills. Conard Class of 2015 Safe Grad Party. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Cash cab sits below the Hollywood Hills. Conard Class of 2015 Safe Grad Party. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Photos on display. Conard Class of 2015 Safe Grad Party. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Photos on display. Conard Class of 2015 Safe Grad Party. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The VIP Lounge. Conard Class of 2015 Safe Grad Party. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The VIP Lounge. Conard Class of 2015 Safe Grad Party. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The movies that are part of the Hollywood theme will also be shown in the auditorium during the all night party. Conard Class of 2015 Safe Grad Party. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The movies that are part of the Hollywood theme will also be shown in the auditorium during the all night party. Conard Class of 2015 Safe Grad Party. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

'Twilight' theme area. Conard Class of 2015 Safe Grad Party. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

‘Twilight’ theme area. Conard Class of 2015 Safe Grad Party. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

'Harry Potter' theme area. Conard Class of 2015 Safe Grad Party. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

‘Harry Potter’ theme area. Conard Class of 2015 Safe Grad Party. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Messages can be left for grads. Conard Class of 2015 Safe Grad Party. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Messages can be left for grads. Conard Class of 2015 Safe Grad Party. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Rodeo Drive food court. Conard Class of 2015 Safe Grad Party. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Rodeo Drive food court. Conard Class of 2015 Safe Grad Party. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Karaoke. Conard Class of 2015 Safe Grad Party. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Karaoke. Conard Class of 2015 Safe Grad Party. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Minute to Win It. Conard Class of 2015 Safe Grad Party. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Minute to Win It. Conard Class of 2015 Safe Grad Party. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Grads can make 'Hollywood star' hand prints. Conard Class of 2015 Safe Grad Party. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Grads can make ‘Hollywood star’ hand prints. Conard Class of 2015 Safe Grad Party. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Photos of grads along the 'Hollywood Wall of Fame.' Conard Class of 2015 Safe Grad Party. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Photos of grads along the ‘Hollywood Wall of Fame.’ Conard Class of 2015 Safe Grad Party. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Photo booth with props. Conard Class of 2015 Safe Grad Party. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Photo booth with props. Conard Class of 2015 Safe Grad Party. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Grads can enjoy a ping pong tournament. Conard Class of 2015 Safe Grad Party. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Grads can enjoy a ping pong tournament. Conard Class of 2015 Safe Grad Party. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Glo Room. Conard Class of 2015 Safe Grad Party. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Glo Lounge. Conard Class of 2015 Safe Grad Party. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

 

 

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